Thursday, October 30, 2008

my life

This is my "Poppa" with my daughter, who is sporting an alpaca kerchief on her head. This was taken about 5 years ago at an annual family picnic.

Poppa is my step dad, he and my mom have been married 18 years now. This is how I would like to remember him. He is the sweetest, happiest most positive man I have ever met. He has not been my step dad since we were sealed in the temple with my sister and brother and mom as an eternal family. He has been ever since, my Poppa.

Spiritual and full of knowledge he willingly shared with others, he was a gentle, wise man. Before Alzheimer's disease claimed his mind that is. A greeter at Wal-Mart, he is recognized everywhere. Once my mom and he were on vacation in Idaho and someone recognized him! They said, "Hey! What are you doing here? You belong in Wal-Mart!" to which he replied, "Even a greeter needs a vacation once in a while!"

Known for his holiday hats, cheerful disposition and the time he stood up to a hooligan in the store (and got his back broken for his troubles), he retired after 15 years as a greeter in January of this year, and people still ask about him.

Now he is in a convalescent home, he doesn't know where he is, he doesn't recognize family, and he is sad and confused all the time. It breaks my heart to see him like this. It makes me angry that his life has been taken over by this insatiable disease. I wish- God forgive me- he would just die in his sleep peacefully so we don't have to see that horrible look of confusion and frustration cross his sweet face ever again.

He has been labeled terminal, there is a DNR order so the idea is he will be on hospice care, kept out of pain and comfortable until he slips away... but I wonder if this horrible disease will chain him to his mortal body long after his mind should be gone.

Poppa has a rare condition that is in the same family as Muscular Dystrophy, it runs in his family and a couple of his kids are suffering from it, it is known as the 'falling down disease'. Earlier in life it was okay, he just lose his balance and be okay. Later it came to be a great hardship on him and my mother. He would fall, couldn't get up, then mom couldn't help him get up due to her lack of strength, and this could go on for a looong time. So they devised a system- more about that later. Luckily this disease seems to come with very tough bones and extremely fast healing properties. Never broke a bone.

This whole ordeal has made me think very hard about how vital simple human kindness is. I have seen the best and the worst of human nature rear it's fickle head while my poppa has been a silent recipient of either.

One nurse at the hospital- happened to be the head nurse- downplayed the fall poppa took out of his bed (over the rails and off the elevated bed while we were out looking for hospice facilities) and said the bruise we saw was only from an injection site (he never got any injections in his hip) and then refused to acknowledge the incredible pain he was in until I got all Shirley MaClain on his butt when he then got on the phone and got the Dr. to give him some morphine.
He claimed poppa only fell to his knees. When we told him that's how he learned to position himself after a fall so mom could help him get up, he said NO, he fell only on his knees. How in the world can anyone fall out of a bed the way he did and possibly land on his knees???

Anyone who has dealt with an Alzheimer's patient knows that the state of confusion they live in can lead to incredible agitation. Add to that serious pain that they don't remember doing anything to warrant having in the first place and you are left with a wreck. Poppa went through a night of hell because of this.
This nurse treated poppa, and all who were concerned with him, like we were less than human.

Three days later poppa had a bruise that ran all the way down his thigh, complete with a rail mark, and bruises on his back. Gee...

When we visited several convalescent hospitals, we vacilated between hearing the shower scene from Psycho track upon entering, and seeing nurses that greeted every patient by name, and stopped to visit with each of them even while conducting a tour for us.

Rooms that were customized with portraits, stuffed animals, televisions and plush bathrobes and comforters obviously provided by loving family members, and those patients who were curled up into unimaginable positions and left to stare at the same wall, left for dead, in a room devoid of even the most basic human comfort by all whom they loved over their long lives.

It makes you wonder, really, it makes you wonder...

I worry about my mother, she is so fragile health wise, and this has devastated her. Poppa is her eternal companion, EC- that's what he affectionately called her. She is so far away from me, I feel helpless... I spent a week out there when Poppa had his heart attack, then I came home and was supposed to go back out there today, but I can't afford to right now, there is only $17 in the bank to last our family of 4 two weeks until the next paycheck. Is there anyone who understands how frustrating it is to have to be somewhere that you can't be? It makes me want to scream out loud.

This is my joy! My only cria for the year, born to my sweet dancing girl. She is big and beautiful and the first multi we have had born on our ranch in 10 years! Thank God for little miracles. She was born the day after Poppa's heart attack, and the day I was trying to get out there with the kids so we could say our goodbyes while he was fairly lucid. I told mom I could leave because she wasn't due until the end of the month, surprise! I came out and there she was. So I had to leave her on her birthday, after ensuring everything looked good with her an her momma. Then I was gone for a whole week...

When I came back it was to this healthy bouncing cria that weighed 16.2 lb on her birthday, and 9 days later a whopping 22 lb!! Wow, what a big girl! She is stunning, extremely dense and crimpy fleece, perfect conformation and her daddy's Peruvian stance and head. Perfection.

After losing two of my precious young alpacas, Narya and Quickbeam- aka: Little Boy, last month, this is indeed a blessing. Although, as she and her momma are all we will be keeping, aside from a few boys, it is a double edged blessing. Yes, we are forced to sell our herd of alpacas and leave the business officially. We can't afford to keep them, feed them.... it is a decision we have made against our hearts, but we need to do what is best for our precious alpacas. When you cannot care for an animal the way they deserve to be cared for, then it is time to let them go.


This is Ella. You might remember my post that my beautiful Diane kitty went missing. Well she never came home. My sweet girl was with us for 10 years, and left us with a big hole in our hearts. Her independent attitude and 'Queen of the World' air are deeply missed. I still look for her and dream of her...
After some soul searching, we decided to adopt a kitty from a local rescue, and this is who we fell in love with.

It has been quite a few years since we had a kitty in the house... wow, she is the energizer bunny times 12!! We have had to 'childproof' the whole house, keep an eagle eye on the cleaning solution, and be as determined to keep her in the house as she is determined to get out! But she is a joy as well... small miracles...

So my friends, this is my life right now. Full of so much... I have an ulcer right now, and my neck is in constant pain due to all the stress and tension. Looking for a big miracle now...
Till next time,


Gattina said...

What a nice tribute to your "poppa" ! Yes, sometimes it is far better to let them go.
Your new kitty is adorable !

Helena said...

Oh dear, Rachelle, what a large cross you have to bear right now. So many things. I hope there are brighter days up ahead. Surely there must be!

Sorry to hear about your Poppa. That is what the grandkids call my partner's dad!!!

I worry about my mum as her memory is getting so bad. She can tell you the same thing 3 times in a day. Her hearing is bad, too. My dad isn't well either. My parents aren't together so I worry about them even more as mum doesn't have anyone.

Very sad about the alpacas. YEs, it is heartbreaking when you have to part with them. I suppose the only way to think of it is that they are going on, they are not being put to sleep or anything. You can't enjoy them any more but they will be ok....

look at the amazing colours on that cat! Where did that ginger arm come from? LOL! Yup she looks like a little nutter, ready to pounce on her own shadow and anything else that dare move. WOnderful joy in little kitties! They are furry bundles of life.

Sending you hugs and tea and cake. Hang on in there. Bob says hi too, but is busy at the moment, reading a book of Bear stories that we got from the book fayre the other week.

quilly said...

You are in my heart and prayers -- as is your Poppa.


Prayers of peace for you & your family,,,,, from another whose Pop has alzheimers.
I believe in miracles. You have one really big one in that beautiful daughter!

(I read your Monarch story on Singleton's blog)

Rachelle said...

Dear Gattina,
Thank you so very much my friend!
I always love to visit your blog, it is so much fun :))
I knew you would love my kitty, kiss Arthur for me!

Rachelle said...

Dear Helena,
I really hate to post like this, it always seems like I'm whining, but it feels right now like there is a mountain on my shoulders, and I don't know how to move it. We have been in this position for so long, I feel as if I'm at the end of my rope, and I'm just frustrated enough to not want to hear 'tie a knot and hold on' anymore!!! Ya know?

Thanks for being there my friend, I appreciate you more than you know.

Rachelle said...

Dear Quilly,
Thanks a bunch girl! :))
I will pop over to visit you today.

Rachelle said...

Dear wilsonart,
Thanks for visiting! I am ever so glad you liked it, and hope to see you again!

Shrinky said...

Hey there bonny lass, sure hope you're popping some vitamins and getting enough sleep to operate on top of all of this? That new kitty of yours sure has unusual markings, doesn't she? And your baby cria is GORGEOUS, give her a cuddle from me. Sure hope your pappy finds peace soon enough (I've been in your shoes with my own dad, it's a heartbreaking situation). Aw Rachelle girl, wish I could swim over and drag you back here for a bit, a little rest and relaxation would do you a power of good. xxx

Sandy Kessler said...

I'm so glad you adopted another- heaven knows thousands need homes, and it carries on her legacy really - i remeember pictures of her,.l Keep those memories written down of Poppa.. Noone can take those.

What happened to the 2 alpacas?

Rachelle said...

Hi Sandy,
Last year we took in some male alpacas from Utah and they brought some parasites with them (we wormed them when they got here but turns ot they needed a longer duration of dosing than we routinely do for quarantined animals) that were unfamiliar to our herd. We have a closed herd, it is very naive and they hit us very hard. They didn't show up in routine fecal exams, they needed a different kind of test to show up on, and by the time I noticed some weight loss it was too late for one of them. The other one we tried to save for 4 days but he was so miserable we just had him put down. He had a terrible prognosis and it was very unfair to let him suffer anymore.
It was a terrible two weeks- believe me.
Now everyone is all worm free, but since this bug has been introduced here, and it is a nast one, we will always have to be hyper vigilant.

cindysis said...

Hey sis, I am trying to catch up with you and your life. I am here for ya! Times are difficult I understand. I love you and I am here for you!

Rachelle said...

Everyone, this is my sister!!!
I love you too Cindy!
So glad to hear from you again, um... email me okay?
Love ya!

Rachelle said...

Everyone, this is my sister!!!
I love you too Cindy!
So glad to hear from you again, um... email me okay?
Love ya!

tiger said...


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